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Day In The Life: Mechanic

Image - Day In The Life: Mechanic

An OC Transpo licensed mechanic stands in the garage in front of a bus.

No matter the time of day, you can find OC Transpo maintenance staff on the job. That’s because transit maintenance is a 24/7 operation with hundreds of employees helping to ensure that up to 600 buses are ready to deliver safe and reliable service, every single day. Even as you read this article, someone is most likely working on a bus.

At OC Transpo, we have more than 150 mechanics who help keep our buses on the road and we’re looking to grow our team. The Next Stop Blog caught up with Dale, one of our licensed mechanics, to find out what a typical day looks like for our mechanics.

Let’s learn more about the critical impact of this behind-the-scenes team, and how this important role makes a difference.

What does your day look like?

All of our buses must undergo an in-depth safety review every six months, and Dale is part of the team that completes these inspections and identifies any issues that require attention. This inspection and maintenance protocol is an important part of OC Transpo’s Bus Maintenance Action Plan and works to address and improve fleet availability.

When Dale arrives at the St. Laurent garage just before 7 am, the first thing he does is connect with his colleagues to get a recap on the previous night and any upcoming tasks. Safety is a top priority at OC Transpo and this quick handover helps Dale plan his workday and maximize efficiency.

Once he’s got an idea of how best to organize his work for the day, it’s time to get going on his first inspection of a 40-foot bus.

From checking tires for wear and tear, to replacing faulty engine components, Dale’s tasks change on daily basis depending on where he is needed most. If he finds that a bus needs specific repairs, he’ll work with other teams to make sure the repairs are completed and clear the bus to return to service.

Not only does Dale inspect for provincially-mandated safety criteria, he also checks non-safety items that are important to customers, like the next-stop announcement system and seat cushions.

Every day is different.

An OC Transpo licensed mechanic inspects the engine of a 40-foot bus.

An OC Transpo licensed mechanic inspects the engine of a 40-foot bus.

Click the image above for a closer look.

Why did you want to work at OC Transpo?

Growing up in a family who owned a small construction business, Dale always liked working with his hands. After high school in southwestern Ontario, he easily transitioned into work as a transport mechanic and continued to develop his skills. When a family move brought him to the Ottawa area, Dale sought out a career that would offer job security and benefits.

Enter OC Transpo.

The rest, Dale says, is “mechanic history” as he quickly fell into life at OC Transpo as a licensed mechanic and enjoyed the daily work, team collaboration and stability.

The future is green

With more than 20 years of experience at OC Transpo, Dale has seen many new vehicles enter the fleet, including an ongoing transition to electric buses through OC Transpo’s Zero Emission Bus Program. Since February 2022, four battery electric buses have been in service and are now approaching almost 500,000 kilometers on the road.

Twenty-two new battery electric buses are scheduled to arrive by December 2024, and an additional 29 buses will be delivered by the end of 2025.

Dale says that working with the electric buses provides many opportunities to build new skills and tackle modern challenges. Similar to diesel buses, electric buses follow a provincially-mandated inspection schedule and all employees, including Dale, who work with these buses must undergo additional electrical training to ensure they are certified to safely work in high voltage environments.

An OC Transpo licensed  mechanic performs maintenance work on the engine of a 40-foot bus.

An OC Transpo licensed mechanic performs maintenance work on the engine of a 40-foot bus.

Click the image above for a closer look.

A culture of care

Maintenance at OC Transpo offers the freedom and flexibility to explore multiple career paths. Staff are encouraged to find areas that best align with their interests and mechanical knowledge, becoming subject matter experts in areas such as brakes, electrical, major engine and running repair.

While specific certifications are necessary prior to starting a maintenance career at OC Transpo, what makes it a special place to work is that compassion is at the core of every position.

When asked what keeps him here and what he wants customers to know? Dale’s answer is simple.

“We care. We care about the people standing there, with two kids, trying to get to daycare. We care about the person at the stop, trying to get to their job. We care, we’re trying and we’re doing the best that we can.”

Want to join us?

Mechanics play a vital role at OC Transpo by helping to provide safe, reliable, efficient, time and cost-effective transit vehicle maintenance. Interested in learning more about becoming a licensed mechanic with OC Transpo? Visit our We’re Hiring page to find out more information.

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